For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves; but these, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are not intelligent. ( 2 Cor. 10:12, Darby)
For do I now seek to satisfy men or God? or do I seek to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I were not Christ's bondman. (Galatians 1:10, Darby)
I've been pretty quiet on this blog recently, partly because I haven't had a lot to say. I've long thought things would be so much better in general if people with nothing to say made it a point to say exactly that. But I've been thinking, praying and agonizing in private; and those are things that really don't work well in this medium. And frankly, some of my agonizing and prayer really isn't any of your business, so I've kept it to myself where it belongs.
But I've come to some tentative conclusions, and I feel some of them are worth speaking about. The most important is this: I have used the failures, sins, and hypocrisies of other Christians (most particularly "brethren") as an excuse to do things I have spoken out against. I've spent some time in some churches practising some of the things I spoke out against in my blog and elsewhere, and I excused myself by saying things like "brethren do the same thing."
I was wrong to do that. I have forgotten that I am to be Christ's servant, and that means I answer to Him. If I believe Scripture speaks against clericalism, then the fact that "brethren" have de facto clergy really is irrelevant. Others' failure to live up to their convictions doesn't give me license to compromise on mine. I have to answer to Christ, not to the Christians around me.
When we left the "brethren" a year and a half ago, I fell into the trap of allowing the things I had seen there goad me into turning my back on what I believed (and believe) to be what Scripture teaches about the Church. I took my family to visit any number of churches that practised the very things I had said were unscriptural. Some of that was legitimate, but some wasn't. Most of the time I wasn't being malicious. That's not the point. The point is, whenever I encountered a conflict between what I saw in Scripture and what I saw in practice; I rationalized it by pointing out that "brethren" are no better. And that's the problem: even if everything I told myself is true, the "brethren" aren't my rule of life, Scripture is (or ought to be).
I'm not saying everything I've done is wrong. I'm not saying the churches I visited are in sin, nor am I even saying Christ was not in their midst. I'm certainly not telling anyone else what they ought to be doing; particularly not the people who've commented and emailed me with similar experiences and exercises.
I'm saying I put my attention where it ought not to have been. I let my quest for the biblical church take some wrong turns because I ignored the "biblical" part and kept comparing myself to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I ought to have been looking at Him, not at them.